Pre-prepared and ready-cooked ranges: a boundless category

The future of pre-prepared and ready-cooked products and chilled fruit and vegetables boasts opportunities and innovations galore, in line with demands by consumers who are eager for healthy products, but with very little time on their hands

Solutions that are ever more attractive and innovative arrive at the market every day, where bags of vegetables are no longer the order of the day: they have been replaced by complete menus, including gazpachos, purees, ethnic mixtures, microwavable products and prepared fruit, amongst others.

Without any doubt, this category has become the driving force for fruit and vegetables.

The growth of pre-prepared food in Spain is on the rise, reaching double figures (+11% at the close of 2018) and an invoicing that could be over 60.000 million euros, whilst at all times maintaining its positive trend.

Since 2016, the market value of pre-prepared food in Spain has evolved by +23.7%. Accordingly, salads represent over 50% globally, and the fact is that the complete, ready-to-eat salad is one of the most solid formats, which is growing more due to its practicality and its ‘on the go’ condition. Ready-to-eat salads are already present in 8 out of every 10 Spanish households.

Furthermore, the operators involved in this category are being highly dynamic and competitive, fighting for a market share that is growing on a daily basis. In fact, innovations in product and packaging, and investments in improved installations or technology, in the warehouses and in the fields, are becoming a priority and receiving multi-million funding.

On the chilled shelves of the large supermarkets new products are appearing all the time, diversity in recipes, flavours for all tastes and a never-ending amount of references.

At this point, most launches in the supermarket arena correspond to the products with the greatest added value . The novelty of the one-leaf salad in a bag has worn off and its growth remains stable. The data collected by Fruit Today reflects a volume that exceeds 160,000 tonnes of pre-prepared products, of which around 20% go to the Horeca channel and 15% are exported, an area led by Grupo Alimentario Citrus.

Steamed recipes, basic meals of vegetables and carbohydrates, which are heated up in five minutes in a microwave oven, as well as purees, ‘salmorejo’ and ‘gazpacho’ cold soups have shown an important increase in the category. The versatility of vegetables created as a new range similar to pasta with spaghetti made from courgette, pumpkin, beetroot or carrot seem to be here to stay.

The launch of prepared fruit

Many operators are waiting for the supermarket shelves to fill up with prepared fruit because, according the estimated data, 40% of Spaniards admit that they would eat more fruit if they could find it already sliced in the supermarket. There is also a scientific study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that gives an even higher figure for this and shows that children and teenagers increase their fruit consumption by up to 70% if it is already peeled and sliced.

Therefore, here we should mention the Valencian company Vicente Peris, with installations very close to the central offices and with a surface area of 3,500 m², equipped for working both with melons and watermelons, halved and vacuum-packed with a second skin, as bowls of sliced, mixed fruit, to which more fruit are added each season. Also in Valencia, the Prepworld factory stands out, with participations by the strawberry company Sur Export, which has made a berry mix into its main category. A company from Toledo, ComFresh, continues to extend its catalogue, and amongst its latest developments there are all kinds of fruit juices and smoothies. Moreover, Anecoop offers seasonal and permanent tubs of fruit, under the brand names Bouquet and Click. Another company that stands out is Bonnysa, as a forerunner in the sale of pineapple cylinders, fresh grated tomato and guacamole.

The catalogue and commitment to peeled, diced fruit has only just started.

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